An Ode To Jamie Vardy’s Goal For Leicester City Against West Brom

Why do we watch football? It’s a question that is often asked.

Some people, when they are trying to put down the sport we love, suggest that football is just people kicking a bag of air around a field. Which, in some sense, is true. However, we all know that it is much more than that, it is, as Arrigo Sacchi once put it:

the most important of lives least important things.

There are so many things to love and adore about the beautiful game.

Many watch it for the thrill of betting, because they love being able to watch and predict what is going to happen and then make money from it. They love that amazing feeling of going to a website like Sbat, reading great tips and then making an informed bet before enjoying the fruits of their labour paying off. There is something magical about watching a football match when you have money on it.

For others, they love watching their team win. There’s something about the kinship and the sense of belonging that comes with watching your team play well and win a match. It might be something about the fact it is often passed down, from family to family, from person to person. In some cases, it is all about watching people do something well. Footballers are the best of the best, what they can do with a ball at their feet often seems like a form of black magic, of dark arts, it makes us gasp and makes us fall in love all over again.

A lot of people get this when they are watching players like Lionel Messi or Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, a stunning goal or a brilliant reflex save can restore your faith in football. There was a moment like this in Leicester City’s win over West Brom, a play that left draws dropped and fans cheering like mad. Riyad Mahrez, a player who can inspire moments of wonder, played a precision pass over the top of the West Brom defence. It was like a homing missile, perfectly aimed and directed towards his telepathic partner England’s Jamie Vardy.

The long ball went high up into the air, it flew and hung for sometime, it looked like it was destined for Vardy to chase, it was vintage Leicester City, the kind of thing you saw when they won the title back in 2016. Vardy let it drop over his shoulder, watching the ball all the way, he could not possibly have looked to see the goal or where he was in reaction to it. There wasn’t time to stop and think, he just had to use instinct.

He struck it with his ‘wrong’ foot, his left, and it flew perfectly into the corner. It was beautiful, it was magic and it’s what professional football is all about. We fall in love with football for moments like these and it was great to watch. I hope more moments are to come this season and at the summer’s World Cup.

Possible Striking Options If Celtic Cash in On Moussa Dembele

French striker Moussa Dembele scored yet another Old Firm goal last weekend. The forward seems to have found his groove again and he’s now hit thirteen goals in thirty-one appearances this term.

In his last seven outings for the Hoops, Dembele has scored five times and also created five assists. That form has seen the forward linked again with Ligue 1 side Olyimpique de Marseille.

Now Celtic don’t necessarily need to sell their star hitman in the summer as he still has two years left to run on his current deal.

The player himself will have a big say on what happens next. He certainly seems to have an affinity with the club and their fanbase but he may feel he’s done all he can in Scotland, especially if Celtic win back to back trebles.

The Scottish Premiership champions might not stand in Dembele’s way, if the French Under-21 does indeed decide he wants to leave Parkhead. The club might feel that they can get a better price this summer rather than wait until he enters that last year of his contract. If they were to get a bid of between £15m and £20m then that might tempt them to the negotiating table.

Obviously Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell will hope that a few teams can compete for the striker’s signature and push the transfer fee up.

Let’s say the prolific marksman leaves Celtic Park, how could Brendan Rodgers change things in the striking line.

Leigh Griffiths will still be there and he will always offer Celtic goals. He has been missing due to injury recently but he has come on leaps and bounds since Brendan took over at Parkhead. Can play up-front by himself and gives you energy and intelligent runs.

If the Hoops do sell Dembele for big money, then I’d imagine they’ll activate the clause to sign Odsonne Edouard from PSG for £7m.

The young forward has impressed during his loan spell. He came off the bench to grab a great winner against Rangers after showing great feet and ambition to find some space in the opposition box.

The Celtic boss heaped praise on Edouard earlier in the week:

“He is one of the best young players I have worked with – his movement, his touch, his all-round play,”

That suggests Rodgers could swoop for Odsonne even if Dembele doesn’t leave in the summer. He still looks a bit raw but you can definitely see a player in there and one that can have a strong impact in big encounters.

The good news for the east-end team is that the feeling is mutual:

“With Rodgers, I feel that I am progressing at all levels and especially at the athletic level.”

“I have scored eight goals in 23 appearances.”

“I know it’s a good ratio, but I must especially continue in that direction.”

Even if Celtic have Edouard and Griffiths for next term, I’d still expect the club to go out and get another attacker through the door. This season’s injury issues with Leigh and Dembele show why the club need three good forwards in the squad.

With that in mind who could they have a look at?

Well there’s Divock Origi, a player that Rodgers worked with at Liverpool.

The Belgian international has spent this year on loan at Wolfsburg but his scoring contribution to the Bundesliga outfit seems to have fizzled out after a bright start. It would seem unlikely that Jurgen Klopp will want him in Liverpool’s first team next year, so he could be available to go out on another loan and that might interest Rodgers.

Brendan said this about the forward previously:

“He’s a young player who has excellent qualities.”

Has scored 44 goals in 202 career appearances, which suggests he’s not a prolific hitman but he’s still only twenty-two years of age and has time to develop.

He’s a tall, strong forward and when he gets in his stride he gives defenders difficulties. Origi is also effective on either wing, that versatility can always be useful for Celtic given the amount of games they play throughout a season.

His physicality and speed would make him a very useful talent up here. Yes he has had a bad year in Germany but let’s not forget that Odsonne Edouard had a terrible experience out on loan at Toulouse in 2017!

All Origi probably needs is a confidence boost and Celtic might offer him that. His contract is up in the summer of 2019, so maybe the Hoops can get him on a cut-price deal.

You then have recent Scotland call-up Oli McBurnie. The youngster has enjoyed a successful loan spell at Barnsley in the English Championship since January (he has grabbed six goals in eight games). He’s an instinctive finisher, good in the air and likes a dribble too.

Oli’s future will be down his parent club Swansea City and what they see in him and where they are next season. If they drop to the Championship, then he’s going to stay there. If they still believe he can develop into a star but he’s not Premier League standard yet, then they’ll probably loan him out. If they don’t see him ever being a top level player then they could be tempted to sell.

Then there’s current youth striker Jack Aitchison.

The teenager scored on his senior debut back in 2016 and he’s since been in great scoring form with the youth sides. He has only just turned eighteen but plenty of people in Parkhead rate him.

Would Brendan Rodgers see the youthful prodigy as a good back-up for an establish three? Probably for at least another season.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Moussa Dembele in the summer. If he stays, then I’m sure the Celtic support and management team will be delighted. But looking at the potential replacements, it seems that there are a few good options out there and that could ease the pain if the goalscoring forward leaves.

Man United’s Main Men Including Mourinho Let The Club Down!

Manchester United put in an extremely poor performance last night and it cost them dear as Sevilla defeated them at Old Trafford to secure the Spanish side a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

To say United went out with a whimper is actually putting it lightly. No one would have predicted the result at 1xbet review.

There was no urgency, they made numerous silly mistakes, struggled to create clear cut chances and weren’t hungry or ambitious enough to take the tie by the scruff of the neck and get the vital win.

For me, it all started in the build up with Jose Mourinho’s pre-game interview. The Red Devils boss was negative and seemed to be make excuses before the fact. He basically dismissed his own side’s merit to call themselves European giants.

Mourinho’s tactics seemed to be sitting back and waiting for an opportunity. Basically strangle the game and kill the Spanish by sheer boredom. They weren’t fluid, they didn’t go for the throat and United need to be more adventurous and proactive at The Theatre of Dreams.

The manager’s team selection was uninspiring to say the least.

Having Marouane Fellaini in beside Namanja Matic was an odd choice. The big Belgian hadn’t started a game for the first-team since November, when ironically United lost to FC Basel in the Champions League.

In the game against Sevilla, Fellaini wasn’t mobile enough to make a difference at the back or up-top. Plus the thirty year old didn’t even win too many balls in the air, which was surely the primary reason for Jose picking him.

Then we have the conundrum with the supposed star players.

Man United haven’t got the Alexis Sanchez that can kill teams off with his creativity, confidence and his determination to give his all. Nope, United have got the Sanchez who left Arsenal in a mood and who goes missing in games. He seems void of confidence and that’s why he’s not attacking in the right areas, taking on more dribbles or taking chances instantly. He’s over thinking things and is more of a hindrance than anything else.

The Chilean has struggled to settle in, he’s caused an imbalance within the team and isn’t doing enough to warrant his continued selection. Yet Jose Mourinho doesn’t seem to be willing to drop the player, even if it’s in everyone’s interests including the forward himself.

Paul Pogba may have cost £89m but the Frenchman is another star void of any luck or confidence.

Much has been made of his position and that he’s not being played in the right area. I don’t truly believe in all of that. If you’re a great midfielder then you can play in various positions within that area. Paul Scholes, Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo all adapted their games to the need of their teams and at various stages of their careers too. Pogba needs to grow up and prove he’s a world class midfielder, at the moment he’s not even the best middle man at Man Utd.

Now we can’t put too much of the blame on him for the Sevilla result but it should be noted he was woeful when he came on. He could hardly find a teammate with any of his passes and he made poor challenges, when his team needed a calm, mature forward thinking performance.

Listen these two players are two that should be the ones that Jose and the United fans trust to get them over the line. When the chips are down, then the likes of Sanchez and Pogba should be the maestros that dig the side out of trouble.

Yesterday, they went missing! But if you think they can turn things around then checkout the latest football betting tips to see of they agree.

Now some may try and defend them by blaming everything on Jose but again these are supposed world class talents. When they go a goal down, then they should be the ones showing for the ball and making things happen.

Manchester United have a rich tradition of being attack minded and having youngsters to rely on.

Scott McTominay has offered more in 2018 than both Fellaini and Pogba. He’s more athletic and more dominating when it comes to winning the ball back and keeping it.

Jesse Lindgard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford might have less experience than say Sanchez but they give you everything and they understand that they need to attack at Old Trafford. They also react when the club urgently need something.

At Man United if you aren’t playing well enough then you get dropped. If you can’t adapt to what the team wants then you don’t play.

It’s time Mourinho remembers where he is and what he has at his disposal. Send a few rockets up the back-sides at those that need them, attack is the best form of defence and utilise the exciting youngsters that are desperate to prove themselves and then keep faith in them.

Why Graeme Murty Deserves The Rangers Job On A Full-Time Basis

Rangers interim boss Graeme Murty has received a fair bit of criticism from his own fans and from opposition support after his side blew their chance to win the latest Old Firm match.

The Ibrox club took the lead twice in the game before letting their opponents back in, they then couldn’t take advantage when Celtic were reduced to ten men and to make things worse, it was the Hoops that managed to come up with a winner.

Now Murty and his team did make mistakes, the Gers man admitted as much after the full-time whistle:

“I am immensely frustrated because I don’t think we will ever give ourselves a better opportunity to go and win the game.”

“We started brilliantly and then lacked composure, got carried away with the atmosphere and they got back into it with a good hit from them but a poor goal from us”

He continued:

“It is a lack of concentration, a lack of switching on at the right times and you don’t get opportunities like that to catch up against players of this calibre.”

“If you give them an opportunity they go and score and it is exactly what we talked about in the brief and all week.”

Some had a problem with the Gers substitutions or lack of.

Even when chasing the game and having an extra sub to make, Murty decided not to throw the dice and bring on another forward like Kenny Miller who has a rich history of scoring in the derby. Josh Windass was clearly flagging by the last twenty or so minutes and should have come off.

When looking at the game, you can still see positives. They created chances, scoring two of them. Had Alfredo Morelos scored his late sitter instead of hitting post, then they would have got a draw from the game. They had most of the possession and at times they really did rattle Celtic.

Now I understand that the Gers support will be hurting and don’t want to be anything but winners, but there needs to be some perspective.

Under Mark Warburton and Pedro Caixinha, Rangers never raised a glove against a Brendan Rodgers Celtic side. They were out fought, bossed and simply couldn’t cope.

Yet under Murty, he managed three times against their Glasgow rivals and drew two at Parkhead and came close to getting a result in Govan.

Plus Celtic still have the better squad and that was clearly evident when you looked at the two benches. They also have more experience and that was vital in their win.

In truth though, Murty and his team might get more out of that result on Sunday. They should now know that they can definitely compete with Celtic and use the latest loss as a motivation to prove themselves as real Scottish Premiership title challengers next term.

Another positive is that they don’t have to wait that long to gain some sort of revenge. They’ll play Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final April.

Midfielder Greg Docherty has stated as much:

“We’re hurting and we need to remember this feeling and take it into that game,”

Murty is still learning on the job but his record is extremely healthy and he deserves the chance to build on the foundations he has given the team.

In 2018, Rangers have won nine out of eleven games. The interim manager has guided the club into second place in the league table and into the last four of the Scottish Cup. Just think Pedro couldn’t win three games in a row!

Murty is also getting the best out of the players at his disposal. Morelos and Jason Cummings are scoring goals. James Tavernier and Declan John are impressing as two star wing-backs. Windass is becoming a creative force with his goals and assists.

January signings like Jamie Murphy, Sean Goss and Docherty have all settled in without any fuss.

Players like Wes Foderingham, Tavernier, Windass and Morelos are all committing to the club. That’s a big sign that things are going in the right direction at Ibrox.

Is there really a ready-made manager out there that understands the club and who won’t come in and upset the applecart? I don’t think so.

Listen, when Graeme Murty took over the job I thought he was too inexperienced to handle the pressure but he’s proved me wrong. He seems to get it and has got his team playing with confidence.

Some Rangers supporters need to look past the latest setback and appreciate that things are improving and that keeping Murty is a strong and stable choice that could bring more positive results in the future!

Does Newcastle Utd Legend Alan Shearer Regret Not Joining Man Utd?

It’s amazing that the debate about Alan Shearer’s decision to reject Manchester United’s advances in favour of joining hometown club Newcastle United still rages on, twenty-two years after the event.

It seems some Man United fans just can’t accept the fact and believe that the former striker must regret his decision based on the medals he would’ve won had he joined the Red Devils instead of the Toon.

Certain people seem to wait for Alan to tweet something before hijacking it and stating he made a huge mistake by not moving to Old Trafford. We should remember that he actually turned the Red Devils down twice!

So does the man himself really regret his decision?


“Of course I was tempted to join Manchester United, but I do not regret either decision,”

“I had a magical time at Blackburn, winning the league. And I completed my own dream of playing for my home town club of Newcastle.”

“I have memories I will hold forever and a goalscoring record that makes me extremely proud.”

I think people forget the circumstances when they look back at this situation.

Firstly, Shearer had won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers. If that was an ambition then he’d already have achieved that goal.

Obviously the lure of playing for your home club can be huge. Shearer clearly still cherishes the hero status that he still has enjoys in the North East and always will.

Yet I think people kind of forget how big Newcastle Utd were at that stage. They were the second best team in the league, having finished just four points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United side in 1996.

Alan Shearer probably felt he was moving to a side that was progressing and that would be challenging for titles. Many spectators at the time thought Shearer’s goals would be the difference maker for the Magpies.

In his debut season, Shearer scored twenty-five league goals (the most that term) and Newcastle again finished second, finishing above Arsenal due to goal difference. Those goals proved the difference between a Champions League place and a UEFA Cup place.

He missed the Champions League though at Newcastle Utd. Well he didn’t really, he still managed ten appearances and score six goals in that particular competition for his beloved hometown team.

His 206 goals for Newcastle United, made Shearer the club’s top goalscorer in their history. He still has the record for the most goals in the Premier League and won sixty-three England caps (scoring thirty times).

Everyone’s different and it’s the same with footballers. Some players want all the medals, some want the biggest bank balances and others want to become heroes at the clubs they supported as kids.

Alan Shearer clearly chose the last option and, by god, he gave that team everything and his fellow Toon supporters adored him for it. That is enough to satisfy the man and who can really argue with that?


Celtic’s Never Say Die Attitude Sinks Rangers Title Hopes

Celtic managed to overcome Rangers in their latest derby clash. It was a close one with the side from Govan twice taking the lead but the Scottish Premiership champions didn’t give up and in the end they had too much for their opponents.

It’s how you react to set-backs that can define games, at times, and that was certainly the case at Ibrox today.

Twice Celtic managed to get back on level terms after the Gers took the lead. The Hoops then had to deal with going down to ten men (after Jozo Simunoivc saw a straight red) and they responded by flinging on another striker and it was super sub Odsonne Edouard that would grab the winner.

When Rangers found themselves behind, they didn’t show the same spirit as Celtic did. The home side seemed shell-shocked at how the Hoops had managed to take the lead. Too many misplaced passes, too many shocking crosses and not enough chances were presented to the forwards. That being said, Rangers could’ve and should’ve got at least a point but hitman Alfredo Morelos inexplicably missed a sitter at the end.

The game all but secures Celtic another league title. They are now nine points clear at the top and have a game in hand. They haven’t been invincible like they were last term but when it counted they went to Pittodrie and Ibrox and saw off their main challengers.

In Scott Brown. Celtic have a captain who sums up the team’s spirit. He does’t give things up and he steps up in the big games. Again today, he was terrific in protecting his defence. He also provided a great assist for Moussa Dembele’s goal. But really his biggest contribution was not panicking or getting overly involved in heated situations. Scott would’ve have seen that this Gers team have more about them than the previous ones he’s faced in recent times but he made sure he gave a composed performance and that was then mirrored throughout the team (well maybe not from Dedryck Boyata).

In Dembele, Kieran Tierney and Tom Rogic the Hoops also have big game players who have the ability to make a difference when the chips are down.

I should also note that Kristoffer Ajer had a fine game at the back, he gave a mature performance when elder central defenders in both sides struggled.

Another big plus for the away side was the strength of depth they had on the bench. Creative forces Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair weren’t needed. Young Jack Hendry came on to shore things up at the back and seemed to handle the occasion without much fuss. Scottish internationalist Stuart Armstrong made his welcomed return from injury and obviously Edouard came off the bench to score the vital winner.

When discussing the team’s spirit, character and the use of the subs then you have to credit boss Brendan Rodgers. He made the right changes at the right time and his side’s game management in the second half was almost perfect.

A challenge from Rangers may be on the horizon but Celtic, today, made sure that their rivals knew that the champions aren’t in any mood to hand over any crown and that they have the experience needed to see out any type of match.

Mourinho Got It Spot On With Man United Duo McTominay & Rashford

Manchester United secured yet another important Premier League victory yesterday as they beat rivals Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford.

United now enjoy a five point cushion ahead of their Merseyside foes but a couple of incidents still irked the home support.

The Man Utd support didn’t enjoy seeing two goal hero Marcus Rashford being subbed off after seventy minutes and they jeered young midfielder Scott McTominay, when he decided to play the ball back when the fans wanted to see the side build an attack.

Jose Mourinho is the United manager and he ultimately decided to bring Rashford off and after the game he criticised the support for having a go at McTominay:

“I am upset with the reaction they had with Scott McTominay, a kid who was making all the right decisions on the pitch, and they want him to make the wrong decisions.”

I have to agree with Jose on both incidents.

Marcus scored two great goals, and really took his opportunity when recalled into the starting eleven. The young forward works extremely hard; making regular forward runs, creating chances, tracking back and making challenges. But yesterday, as well as getting his brace, Rashford also received a booking in the first half.

In a derby game, you’re naturally playing in a volatile atmosphere and arguments could be made for the youngster receiving a second yellow for some of his other challenges. I believe that would have been harsh but Mourinho clearly realised that the forward was one poor tackle away from seeing a second yellow.

With twenty minutes to go and with United trying to protect their advantage, that leads to niggling fouls to hold up play and Rashford couldn’t make any of those. So in terms of protecting the lead, I honestly think Jose made the rational call, that the team benefitted from.

You know also have a striker coming into the Sevilla game full of confidence.

Obviously supporters of the Red Devils want to see the local lad score a derby hat-trick and want to keep attacking but ultimately you can’t do that in every game and you have to see out the victory.

In terms of the McTominay situation, fans always seem to think that players that have came through the club’s youth ranks are easier to criticise. I have never understood that, as these are young men who are still learning and developing.

Why risk that with unwarranted criticism?

If you look at the move, he actually did the right thing. Liverpool were in the ascendency and piling on the pressure. A more experienced teammate played it back to Scott and the youngster then made sure his side kept the ball and took some of the sting out of the game. It was fine game management.

Plus let’s not forget that the midfielder had a superb match. He put his foot in and won the ball, which he then kept with smart passes. He showed a maturity beyond his years and has done that in previous big games too. The support need to remember that and not pile on pointless pressure at this stage of his career, especially when he’s doing so much right.

At the end of the day, both Jose Mourinho and Manchester United fans will be delighted with yesterday’s win. That’s the most important thing and they will all appreciate that they have two fine young footballers in Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford.

Former Celtic Man Sutton Was A Player Opposition Fans Loved To Hate

Chris Sutton the player was much like Chris Sutton the pundit: People seem to either love him or hate him.

Those that enjoy his work will say he’s passionate and honest, while those that dislike him will say he’s arrogant and biased.

Growing up I supported the blue half of Glasgow and that meant Sutton was part of the enemy.

Your rival’s players could fall into various categories; those you laughed at (Rafael Scheidt), those that were a bit meh (Marc Crosas) and those you had just had to respect (Henrik Larsson).

Chris Sutton fell into another important category and that’s one that opposition fans really dislike but grudgingly knew that they’d love to have in their own team.

The Englishman came to Glasgow after a poor season at Chelsea. His £6m signing was a masterstroke bit of business from Martin O’Neill. Sutton would join the Hoops determined to prove himself and was still only twenty-seven years of age, so he was just hitting his prime. That’s a dangerous combination for the opponents he’d come against.

His style and Chelsea’s style didn’t really suit each other but at Celtic his physical approach was just what was needed at Parkhead. His partnership with Larsson was legendary and they’d provide plenty of assists for one another. Having supply lines from the likes of Alan Thomson, Bobby Petta and Lubo Moravcik was perfect for the strikers.

He instantly became a hero for the fans with a debut winning goal against Dundee United in the SPL. His fine form continued into the first Old Firm derby of the year that year and Celtic knew that this game was the one that would help form their season.

When the game started, it was quite clear that Celtic were at the races as they rushed into a three goal lead inside the first fifteen minutes. Sutton grabbed the first and helped with an assist for another. Celtic didn’t take their foot off the gas and completed a 6-2 rout and Sutton scored again at the end of the game.

He seemed to relish scoring against his side’s biggest foes and that gave him a hero status in the east end and he quickly became hated in Govan.

To be fair, Chris was a very intelligent player. He would work on opponent’s weaknesses and he scored various types of goal. He could also play at the back or in midfield, and only smart players can adapt to play in such varied roles for their team. His involvement in the build-ups was majestic and his unselfishness in helping his fellow strikers was admirable.

Sutton’s overall style on the park was the main reason he wasn’t liked by those in blue. He was very physical and didn’t mind bullying defenders. He would pull, push and grapple with opponents. Those type of actions that the referee would tolerate but the opposition fans would be yelling from the terraces.

When you took a step back as a rival supporter screaming at his dirty tactics, you could see that he was actually the type of player you would like in your team. Rangers had a similar type in the past in the form of Mark Hateley and he was adored.

Who wouldn’t want a player who was passionate about the team, that could bully defences and who could score in the biggest of games both domestically and in Europe?

Chris Sutton later stated:

“When I arrived I wanted to put Rangers in their place. I felt strongly about this. I came to Scotland to be a winner and be successful.”

To be fair, that kind of statement is what you want to hear from a player that has played for your club. It obviously stings when it’s against you, but it only hurts because you know that’s what you want from your own players.

When I look back at Sutton’s time in Glasgow, as a player, I have to grudgingly accept he was brilliant for the Hoops and had the qualities that you had to admire.

Both Rangers And Celtic Have Points To Prove In Old Firm Clash

Glasgow has already hit fever pitch with Old Firm fans, the Scottish media and the two teams discussing the upcoming clash that will take place at Ibrox on Sunday.

Various columnists and pundits have stated who they think is under the most pressure to get a result this weekend.

Celtic boss Brendan Roders insists that the heat is on the home side. He’s been backed up by Gers legendary figure Walter Smith who said:

“Sunday’s game is one Rangers have to win.”

“Not just for the sake of beating Celtic but for showing the rest of the world that, ‘Right okay, there might be a wee chase on for the league this year. Okay, this might be the start of Rangers coming back to being the club they were before all the turmoil”

While former Celtic star Kris Commons has stated that the champions are the ones that are under pressure to perform.

In truth, both sides have points to prove and that kind of shows us that the fixture is significant once again.

Without doubt Rangers have improved under Graeme Murty. His Gers side have won their last six matches on the bounce and a win in the derby will see them lie just three points behind the Hoops (Although Celtic will still have a game in hand). A positive result will probably cement Murty as the club’s next permanent boss.

As I’ve mentioned Rangers are on a decent winning run but they now need to prove that they can challenge Celtic and to do that they need to give their rivals a game and collect all three points.

Some of the boys in blue also have to show that they cane meet the demand that such a fixture brings.

Alfredo Morelos has had a terrific season thus far, but the Colombian hasn’t scored against the Scottish Premiership leaders and he’ll be determined to change that.

New boys like Russell Martin, Greg Docherty, Jamie Murphy, Sean Goss and Jason Cummings will want to prove that they can perform in such an intense atmosphere too.

In Glasgow’s east end, Celtic have to show that they can meet this Rangers revival and crush the optimism that currently seems to engulf Ibrox.

The champions haven’t been as strong since the end of December and complacency has taken hold on occasions recently. That being said they went up to Aberdeen and professionally ended the Dons title hopes last month.

Rodgers and his team will know that a win over Rangers will see them go nine points clear and still have that game in hand. That would probably knock the stuffing out of their closest rivals.

The Celtic defence will want to prove that they aren’t the side’s weakest link, Moussa Dembele will be determined to show he’s back to his goalscoring best and Scott Sinclair’s hoping he can rediscover his form.

As I said, both teams are under pressure to prove themselves as they meet up on Sunday.

I think it’s great that we are once again talking about this match and putting so much importance on it. On Sunday hopefully both sides will go for it and the victors can enjoy proving their point!

Should Jose Mourinho Drop Alexis Sanchez From Man United Starting Eleven?

There was a huge buzz when Manchester United beat Manchester City to the signature of Alexis Sanchez back in January. Yet it has so far not really worked out for the Chilean at Old Trafford.

Alexis has played eight times for the Red Devils. In that period, he has missed a penalty but scored the rebound and created two assists (one on his debut against Yeovil in the FA Cup). In truth, his performances have been a bit lacklustre. He certainly hasn’t contributed enough in the bigger games against Chelsea, Sevilla and Tottenham Hotspur.

Man United boss Jose Mourinho is trying his best to fit Sanchez into his team; having played him on either wing and as a number ten behind Romelu Lukaku.

The international forward is still working hard and trying to get involved but not in the areas of the field that will make an impact going forward. He may be more disciplined defensively under Jose’s instructions but that hasn’t and won’t work. When you look at the average shots per game stats in the Premier League, United are the sixth best team and Sanchez was brought in to improve that record. It’s the same story with shots on target per game.

It looks as though Jose is trying to be persistent and hoping that he can play Alexis into form but that could have an adverse affect on the creative maestro. He looks to trying too hard and he’s cutting a frustrated looking figure on the park.

Maybe the time is right for Jose Mourinho to drop his latest recruit.

By taking Sanchez out of the starting line-up against Liverpool this weekend, it sends the message to the Chilean that he needs to improve. It may also take some pressure away from him, especially if Mourinho handles it in the right way.

Plus let’s face it the Man Utd manager hasn’t been slow to drop other under performers like Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford.

Before the arrival of the former Arsenal man, United were on a seven game unbeaten run. Things were looking good with Martial on the left, Juan Mata on the right and Jesse Lingard playing in the hole behind Lukaku. Yet when Alexis arrived that seemed to derail things and players went on a decline when Mourinho made changes to accommodate his new signing.

Losses to Spurs and Newcastle United since the turn of the year has seen Man Utd’s position in second place come under serious threat. If Liverpool beat them at Old Trafford on Saturday then Jurgen Klopp’s men will step over United in the league standings.

If Manchester United can secure a victory over their rivals then they will once again have a cushion to protect during the run-in. Third or fourth place won’t really signify progress this term in my book.

When he signed Sanchez, Jose said this:

‘He will bring his ambition, drive and personality, qualities that make a Manchester United player and a player that makes the team stronger and the supporters proud of their club dimension and prestige.’ 

So far, United haven’t really seen the best of Alexis Sanchez but I think class is permanent and he just needs time to settle in at his new club. In the end, Jose Mourinho will need to decide if he persists in starting the forward and hope he turns good sooner rather than later or take him out the firing line for a short time and hope that can kick-start his season.